avatarMelissa Herzog Travel Writer

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A Wonderful Surprise at Kuranda Rain Forest in Australia

Photo by Melissa Herzog

After spending several days sightseeing in Sydney, Australia it was going to be a good change to get out of the city. We loved every part of Sydney and beyond, but like any large city, it’s nice to sit back and take the world in at a slower pace.

Flying up to Cairns was a bit of a surprise hitting the humid air and hotter temperatures than when we left Sydney. Watching the huge bats at night was something to get used to, (read my story Which Scares Me More, Flying Foxes or Flying Monkeys?).

We planned a day at the Kuranda Rain Forest which is a must-see if you are in that part of the world. I felt like I was in a different place far away from the hustle and bustle of the city we had left behind.

Kuranda Rain Forest is a beautiful mountainous area surrounded by the oldest living tropical rainforest. Lush and green with animals I had never seen before. A cable car ride known as the Sky Rail took us up the hillside above the tree tops of green valleys with a breathtaking view.

Photo by Melissa Herzog

We visited a unique village with local Indigenous culture and eclectic markets where we talked to the locals in great conversations. I loved seeing some of the hand-crafted items that I could get for unique gifts back home and supporting them in their business. We also spent time with other animals and hand-fed the kangaroos.

Many people think that when they go to Australia, they are going to get to hold a Koala, but in most areas, this is banned. However, at the Koala Kuranda Gardens in the Kuranda Heritage Markets, my dream was fulfilled.

It's about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, (35 Celsius) and muggy, humid, sticky. So hot, and here are these adorable koalas in their thick, soft fur. I step up to the counter to get the safety talk and now I am a little apprehensive. I want the Koala to be as gentle with me, as I would be with him. The staff brings him over, he is seemingly cool as a cucumber while I have sweat dripping down my back. They hand him over to me as they instruct me how to hold him and move his paw ever so slightly onto my shoulder.

Koala and me

He is so much heavier than I imagined, and he is gentle. I am gentle. I must have the biggest smile on my face as they take the photos, they don’t have to coax one out of me. I didn’t care about the photo or how I would look, I didn’t comb my hair or fix my face, I just adored this animal as long as I got to hold him.

I know he won’t remember me, but I will never forget him.

Then we leave the mountain via the Kuranda Railway. You can do it in reverse, railway first, then Skyrail down, but because of our schedule, we chose to do it this way.

View from the train Photo by Melissa Herzog

The Kuranda Scenic Railway ride is about 2 hours long and takes you back down to sea level from about 327 meters, (1,000 feet) leaving tropical gardens behind traveling through the rain forest of the Din Din National Park, and passing waterfalls. We have a couple of short stops including one at Barron Falls. We pass by deep ravines and over 55 bridges traveling through 15 hand-made tunnels. The railway opened in 1891 and the station has one of the most photographed train stations with its gardens.

Around the curve, you could see the front and back of the train — Photo by Melissa Herzog

It is a truly. a remarkable and one-of-a-kind trip, so if you ever find yourself near Cairns, spend some time at Kuranda.

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